Who Won, and Who Lost, World War II?
Sunday, the 80th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Poland, Vice President Mike Pence spoke in Warsaw's Pilsudski Square of "five decades of untold suffering and death that followed" the invasion. Five decades!
What Pence was saying was that, for Poland, World War II did not end in victory but defeat and occupation by an evil empire ruled by one of the greatest mass murderers of the 20th century, Josef Stalin.
The "Liberation of Europe," the 75th anniversary of which we celebrated at Omaha Beach on June 6, was a liberation that extended only to the Elbe River in the heart of Germany.
Beyond the Elbe, the Nazis were annihilated, but victory belonged to an equally evil ideology, for the "liberators" of Auschwitz had for decades run an archipelago of concentration camps as large as Himmler's.
So, who really won, and who lost, the war?
Winston Churchill wanted to fight for Czechoslovakia at Munich in 1938, and Britain went to war for Poland in 1939. Yet if both nations ended up under Bolshevik rule for half a century, did Britain win their freedom? And if this was the predictable result of a war in a part of Europe where Nazis confronted Bolsheviks, why did Britain even go to war?
Why did Britain declare war for a cause and country it could not defend? Why did Britain turn a German-Polish war into a world war that would surely bankrupt her and bring down her empire, while she could not achieve her declared war goal -- a liberated and independent Poland?
What vital British interest was imperiled by Hitler's retrieval of a port city, Danzig, that had been severed from Germany against the will of its 300,000 people and handed to Poland at Versailles in 1919?
Danzigers never wanted to leave Germany, and 90% wanted to return. Even the British Cabinet thought Germany had a case and Danzig should be returned.
Why then did Britain declare war?